Sunday, December 8, 2013
AUGUSTA — City councilors voted to quadruple the charge for traffic accident reports and other police documents, the first increase in those charges in more than 30 years.
Since at least 1982, the city, according to Chief Robert Gregoire, charged $5 for the first five pages of accident and other police-generated reports, and 25 cents for each page beyond the first five.
The new fees that councilors approved unanimously Thursday are $20 for the first five pages, with the same 25-cent charge for each additional page.
“We’re just catching up with inflation and time,” Councilor Michael Byron said.
Deputy Chief Jared Mills said previously that about 2,000 crashes occur each year in the city. He said most copies of accident reports are requested by insurance companies.
Councilors also approved an increase in the cost of having a dog retrieved by the police.
The impound fee charged to the owner of a dog on the loose that gets picked up by the animal control officer increases from $15 to $35 for a first offense, from $25 to $50 for a second and $50 to $75 for a third.
During a previous meeting at which the topic was discussed, Mills said as far as police could tell, the dog impound fees haven’t been increased since at least 1998.
Police settled on the proposed fees by looking at the amount of staff time involved in producing them.
Gregoire said the fee structure probably will generate about $10,000 a year in revenue.
Mills previously presented data from other Maine cities about what they charge for similar fees.
Generally, he said, Augusta charges amounts similar to those of most other cities, though he noted those communities probably haven’t increased their fees in some time, either.
The city also will collaborate with Getcrashreports.com to allow people to get accident reports online, for a lower fee of $15. The lower fee is meant to encourage use of the online service, because it could save the city the staff time needed to copy the report.
Before the vote on police department fees, Mayor William Stokes presented the first Mayor’s Recognition of Excellence Awards, meant to recognize a business, individual and group which has made a positive difference in the city. Awarded were Stacy’s Hallmark, a downtown staple for 40 years; historian and volunteer Phyllis vonHerrlich; and the Augusta Boys and Girls Club.
Keith Edwards — 621-5647